Murray State Theses and Dissertations


This qualitative study explored the academic and motivational challenges of prospective first-generation college students from the rural high schools. This study was mostly focused on the academic preparation and challenges of first-generation college students who have decided to pursue their post-secondary education, the influence and motivation of social capital on their academics, the impact of their geographical background on their transition process to post-secondary education. The participants in the study were thirteen high school students of which twelve students were seniors and one was a junior from high schools of four rural districts of Western Kentucky. A generic qualitative research methodology was followed in this study to explore the academic preparation, challenges of these first-generation students, and their motivation and the impact of their social network for higher education. The data collected from the biographical questionnaire and in-depth interview were analyzed and six different themes were emerged from the analysis of the collected data. The findings from this study confirmed the importance of social network and cultural capital of first-generation students for accomplishing their academic success. The recommendations for the academic and non-academic influencers of this population of students are highlighted in the findings of this study. It is important for to have a strong social capital for the first-generation students that include their teachers, counselors, administrators, parents and other family members to identify their academic needs and encourage them to pursue their post-secondary education, since they are the first ones from the family going to college. A strong social network can motivate these students and can lead them to be successful in their career and life which is the main idea of P-20 Philosophy.

Key words: prospective first-generation college students; transition; social capital; cultural capital; rural; motivation

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Author's Keywords

prospective first-generation college students; transition; social capital; cultural capital; rural; motivation

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Dissertation Committee Chair

Dr. Brian Bourke

Committee Member

Dr. Randal Wilson

Committee Member

Dr. Eric Batts

Document Type